Vanessa Severo

Cynthia Levin / Unicorn Theatre

In its 40th year, the Unicorn Theatre continues its mission of bringing new American plays to Kansas City audiences. Among the themes explored this season are racial identity, family dysfunction, and, with its kickoff production, Venus in Fur, the ever-shifting power dynamic between men and women.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

This season, David Harrower's "Blackbird" returns to The Living Room. It's a play exploring an unsettling relationship and its aftermath.

photo: Cynthia Levin, courtesy of Unicorn Theatre

Though the Unicorn Theater has always been quick to pounce on the most buzzed about plays in New York, it has actually launched many new plays. In fact, a quarter of the shows over the years have had their world premieres in Kansas City. The latest is called "Green Whales," and while it tackles tough subjects in comedic ways, it is giving everyone involved a voice in bringing this new play to fruition.

photo: Charles Stonewall

EXTENDED RUN: August 1 - 3, American Heartland Theatre. At performance spaces throughout the city, over 50 events make up this year's KC Fringe Festival, a celebration of the off-beat, nontraditional, and avant-garde.

When people think of stories about mortal men who create life from inanimate objects, Frankenstein and Pinocchio come immediately to mind. Less well-known is the 1870 ballet, Coppelia, about a creator of dolls who come to life.